Solo disk from Druha Trava banjoist Lubos Malina, who continues to push the boundaries of his instrument with stunning technique and vivid imagination. Features Bela Fleck, Tony Trischka, Peter Rowan, and Davy Spillane.... more
Lubos Malina (LEW-bosch Me-LEEN-a) is, according to many, the best European banjo player today. He is admired for his technical abilities, precise timing, clean sound and professional attitude. He is also an inventive writer as shown on his first U.S. release, Piece of Cake. He always attracts attention as a valuable member of the Czech bluegrass band Druha Trava (Second Grass). When describing his contribution to the group, Bluegrass Now said, "Malina’s banjo playing dazzles and adds a strikingly colorful thread to the band’s musical weave." He is also a popular member of his part time group, The Flatt & Scruggs Revival. In his previous musical career, he played with Poutnici (and can be heard on their two albums, which were awarded the Best Non-American Recordings of the Year by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in 1989 and 1990), an army brass band (he is professionaly trained on the clarinet) and in various folk and country music groups. He has also played his 5-string banjo with symphonic orchestras and for Czech pop singers. It’s fair to say, Malina is a musician of many talents.
Born and raised in the Czech Republic, where he still lives, Malina has always been drawn to progressive bluegrass music and was greatly influenced in the beginning by Larry McNeely and Earl Scruggs. "I know today that the base for all banjo playing is Earl Scruggs. The more I explore the Scruggs style, the more I realize his genius." Malina’s heaviest influences come from the mastery of Bela Fleck, the stylings of Tony Furtado and Alison Brown and the timing and inner energy of his mentor, Tony Trischka. "My favorite is Tony Trischka. I’ve been listening to him for about fifteen years, and I’m always surprised by his ideas." In 1992, Malina was named Best Banjo Player Overall at the 20 year old Banjo Jamboree Festival held at Strakonice (Czech Republic). This was after being voted Banjo Player of the Year annually since 1986. Along with Robert KrestanPoutnici, which sold nearly half a million records in their native land. After the successful release of his first solo effort All You Can Eat, Malina continued touring with Druha Trava and became an endorser of Gibson banjos, receiving and playing a treasured RB-5 Special.
With guests Bela Fleck, Tony Trischka, Peter Rowan, Davy Spillane, Druha TravaPiece of Cake is an incredible example of Malina’s musically diverse style. The album moves from blistering to sweet, wrapping itself around the mood and tempo of each song. From the haunting melody of The Tree of Leaf and Fire, written after learning of the death of a fellow musician and brought to life with lyrics by Peter Rowan, to the Gypsy sounds of Gejza and Berta, Lubos Malina transforms each piece into its own vibrant creation. Occasionally, he’ll add the sultry, mesmerizing tones of the saxophone, an instrument far outside the realm of acoustic stringed instruments but that works beautifully nevertheless, adding an extraordinary emotional tone. The expression and innovative compositions he puts forth are evidence of his growth and vast array of knowledge as a player and leader.
The release of Piece of Cake should further establish Malina as one of the foremost progressive banjo players performing today. With Druha Trava, he is currently scheduled to make three tours of the U.S. in 1999 with appearances planned at major music festivals including MerleFest.